The design, implementation and evaluation of a teacher development programme to empower graduate students teaching in the undergraduate chemistry laboratory

Flaherty, Aisling (2018) The design, implementation and evaluation of a teacher development programme to empower graduate students teaching in the undergraduate chemistry laboratory.


Graduate students who fulfil teaching roles in the undergraduate laboratory play an
important role in establishing a positive learning environment. A host of graduate-student teacher training programmes have been developed, implemented and evaluated
accordingly in order to enhance their teaching capability. In addition, research has also
investigated the varied or sometimes complex factors that influence graduate students'
teaching behaviours. However, much of the extant literature on graduate-student teacher
development has prized a transmission model of teacher education whereby information
about what good teaching involves is transmitted to graduate students as a means of
developing their teaching capability. Further, evaluations of chemistry graduate-student
teacher development programmes have grappled with evidencing significant
advancements made to the instructional practices of its participants.
This research set out to develop, implement and evaluate a teacher development
programme for graduate students who teach in the undergraduate chemistry laboratory.
The 'Teaching as a Chemistry Laboratory Graduate Teaching Assistant' (TCL-GTA)
programme sought to employ an alternative way of catalysing graduate students in their
laboratory teaching roles by enhancing their sense of psychological empowerment. In
order to achieve this, it was sought to nurture the conditions of teacher empowerment
that are linked to enhanced student performance during the programme. The 'Meaningful
Learning in the Laboratory' (MLL) instructional model was designed to guide graduate
students’ conceptualisation of how students learn meaningfully in the laboratory, as well
as informing how they instruct and interact with students in the laboratory.
This research was carried out over four phases that involved informing, designing,
implementing and evaluating the TCL-GTA programme. Underpinned by pragmatic
philosophy and subscribing to various philosophical underpinnings of the positivistic,
postpositivistic and constructivist paradigms, this research employed a mixed method
approach of collecting and analysing both quantitative and qualitative forms of data from
questionnaires, interviews and laboratory audio recordings. A range of analyses
including thematic analysis, category development and statistical analysis were
employed. The findings of this research indicates misalignment in the perceptions of the
role of laboratory demonstrators which subsequently informed the design of the TCL-GTA programme. The implementation of the TCL-GTA programme nurtured empowering
teacher development conditions. This positively influenced graduate students' sense of
psychological empowerment in their laboratory instructor roles while concomitantly
enhancing their verbal interactions with general chemistry students in the laboratory.

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